New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih held substantive bilateral talks on Saturday. Both countries signed six agreements to strengthen key areas including defence and maritime.

Addressing the Maldivian Parliament, PM Modi said, “Relations between India and Maldives are older than history. Today I want to emphasize that every Indian is with you for the strengthening of democracy in the Maldives.”

Modi arrived in the Indian Ocean archipelago on Saturday on his first abroad visit since being re-elected to office, reflecting the importance India attaches to its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.

Also read: PM Modi, Maldivian President Solih inaugurate India-built Coastal Surveillance Radar System 

The first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed was for cooperation in the fields of hydrography. The second was on health.

The other agreements included are the establishment of passenger and cargo services by sea, cooperation in customs capacity building between the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs of India and the Maldives Customs Service.

An MoU was also signed between the National Centre for Good Governance, the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances and the Maldives Civil Service Commission on Training and Capacity Building Programme for Maldivian civil servants.

The two countries have agreed to start a ferry service between Kochi and the Maldives, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

Prime Minister Modi said that the launch of RuPay Card in the Maldives will give a boost to tourism in the island nation. He said that maritime and defence ties are the prime consideration and the radar system will boost maritime security. India is committed to helping the Maldives in every way possible, he added.